Tag Archives: basil

My Raspberry and Strawberry Plants are Here!

My mom grows the best raspberries in her garden.  There is nothing better than going out in her yard and picking a handful of just the most delicious ripe berries or having some of her homemade raspberry jam.  So I decided it was time to try and grow some myself.  I ordered them earlier this winter from Burpee and they just arrived, ready to plant.  Of course, while I was ordering them I was tempted by the strawberries as well and ordered some of them too.

Now I don’t have nearly the space she does, so I hope I’m not creating a monster by planting plants that like to spread like berry plants do.  But, it’s worth a try to get those fresh berries in my own yard.

The plants arrived as bare-root stock, which mostly means they look dead.  I’ve had plants before come this way, so I’m not worried.


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Much to my surprise, my new plants came from my old stomping grounds, Erie County NY!

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Because I was indecisive, I order 2 different everbearing varieties:  Heritage and Caroline.  Everbearing varieties will produce two crops, one in July and the other in the fall.  Both of these varieties seem to work well in my area so we’ll see if one is better than the other.

I spread them out in a couple of different garden areas that get a fair amount of sun.  Right now, they look like dead sticks, but in the next few weeks they should start to grow.

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While I was shopping for the raspberries, the strawberry ads caught my eye.  I had grown a couple of plants last year that put out a few tasty strawberries, so I thought more would be better.

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After a little research, I added 25 Evie-2 plants to my order.  I probably don’t need so many plants, but that’s how they came.  Unfortunately, before they came Burpee sent me a note that their vendor had a production problem and they wouldn’t be able to send them to me so they were issuing a refund.  But, for my inconvenience they were sending complimentary Seascape Strawberry plants which I very much appreciated.

Both Evie-2 and Seascape are day-neutral strawberries that produce flowers and fruit all season, as long as the temperatures are between 40°F and 85°F, regardless of day length.  Unlike everbearing varieties that produce 2 or 3 distinct crops per season, day-neutral produce continuously.  A summer full of strawberries sounds good to me.

The plants come as bare-root stock and are sent at the right time for my planting area.   Once they arrive they need to be planted as soon as possible.

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Before planting, it’s recommended that they be soaked for two hours.

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Once good and soaked they are ready to plant.  I don’t really have a great place for them, so I decided to plant them in a bit of a no-man’s land garden area that I’ve been putting some iris’s (that never seem to bloom but just take up space) and extra grasses in.

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I dug a small hole for each and spread out the roots in the hole.  Cover with soil and water them in.

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A couple of days later, we had an unusually late freeze so I covered the tender new plants with a sheet to protect them from the very cold overnight temperatures.  We got down to 29°F, which hopefully hasn’t done any damage to any of my emerging plants.

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The plants look just fine the next morning.  Can’t wait for those berries!

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But, while the strawberries looked great, I had bought a basil plant at a local store  a few days before.  I knew it was too early to plant and moved it into the screen porch that night.  But alas, still too cold and it is now a very sorry looking basil plant 🙁  I will try to give it some TLC in the house before taking it back out to plant.  

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Have you grown berries successfully?  Did they overgrow everything or was it ok? Peggy says the trick is to just mow over any stray raspberry shoots.

Hopefully the cold spring isn’t hurting your gardens this spring.

35 Pounds of Tomatoes

No, I didn’t grow that many in my garden.   I got a decent harvest this year to keep us in fresh tomatoes for the summer and early fall, but for stocking up for winter, I went to the local Farmers Market.   I bought the large, 10 lb box last week and processed those for the freezer, then decided I needed more.  Being the savvy consumer that I am, I realized I could get 2.5x as many tomatoes in the half bushel as in the large box for only 25% more.  That’s a screaming deal in my book,  and they were beautiful red, perfectly ripe roma tomatoes.  My first hint of how much work was ahead of me was when I picked up the bag they were in to carry them to the car.  A half bushel of tomatoes is really heavy-apparently about 25 lbs.

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Over two nights, I made 2 double batches of pasta sauce using America’s Test Kitchen’s (recipe here).  Instead of the canned crushed tomatoes, I used 3 cups of lightly pureed, peeled tomatoes.  I also found that the texture of the tomatoes was better when pureed in my food processor than in my blender.  As I’ve described before, peeling tomatoes is pretty easy, and I think necessary to have a more pleasing sauce texture.  (Just personal preference, but I’m not a fan of tough skins floating in my sauce, soups or stews.)

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While the tomatoes looked beautiful, my kitchen was a mess!

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Once I had the tomatoes peeled, I was ready to make the sauce and chop up the rest for a variety of uses.  I left most only roughly chopped to allow for more versatility.  I can further chop or puree the frozen tomatoes depending on what I need them for.

I’m pleased with the final number of bags, it didn’t seem like a lot at first, but I think this will last me quite a while.  The large bag of while tomatoes was turned into 4 more bags of pasta sauce the next evening.  I ran out of garlic so had to have time to run to the store.

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And what are tomatoes without some basil?

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So in the end, did it save me money over buying canned diced tomatoes and jarred pasta sauce?  Maybe, maybe not, but my tomatoes and sauce will definitely have a better, fresher taste, with only those ingredients in them I want.  I’m actually looking forward to winter cooking (but maybe not the weather).

Glowing Tomatoes

The tomatoes are ready for picking in bulk this weekend.  I been picking as needed for eating; BLT’s, tomato mozzarella salad, grilled burgers, greek salads, tomatoes au gratin, and the list goes on. Do you have a favorite fresh tomato recipe?
But this weekend, I have the time to harvest them for winter storage.  In the meantime, the sun was just perfect a few days ago for a few shots with my new camera, a Canon Powershot G15.

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…and what are tomatoes without a little basil?
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(BTW, as soon as I finished taking these pictures, I promptly pinched off the basil flower stalk to keep the plant from bolting)

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Beginning to Look Like a Jungle

I finally got my basil seeds to start indoors.   I kept forgetting to by them at the store.  I  planted them in the seed trays on April 11, so I should be fine for transplanting in May.  The other seedlings are growing like gangbusters.  Just need to remember to keep them watered and turned.  When the water starts to get too low, the first to go will be the corner squares.  In the picture, you can see a pepper plant looking a little weak, signs that I let the water get a little too low.  You can also see that I need to turn the plants, they are growing all over each other towards the window.

Two things I need to work on.  1)  Thin out the plants.  I usually put a couple of seeds in each space, so once they get growing I need to pinch back to just one plant.  It remains healthier, and I just don’t have the space in my garden to plant them all.   2)  I also think I need to figure out how to stake some of the seedlings, otherwise I’m going to get a giant tangled mess of climbing plants.  What do you do when your seedlings get too leggy and big and it’s too soon to plant them outdoors?

 

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